What’s an expert?

Found this on skidiva.com Advanced or Expert – Not Sure, it’s worth considering for any pursuit — not just skiing.

skigrl27 wrote:

Tiger Woods is an expert golfer, but he is challenged every time he plays, right? You will always be challenged on the slopes – heck, that’s kinda why we’re out there, right? There will always be harder trails, bigger cliffs, sicker lines, etc.

I think if you willingly and frequently ski double-blacks and “expert only” terrain – and do so respectfully (ie: not tumbling down the whole thing) then you are considered an expert skier. If you kind of warily and timidly ski double-blacks – and only do so occasionally, then you are more likely advanced.

But then that starts debate about double blacks in Colorado vs. them in VT or Canada…or in Europe. ugh…who cares, just ski and be merry!

altagirl replied:

I absolutely agree with that.

There is NO SUCH THING as an athlete so good they can’t improve. Even the pros are always pushing themselves – you never get to say “well, I passed the test, now I know it all and I’m done learning and trying to improve.”

I know this topic comes up on ski boards every now and then and it gets on my nerves, to be honest. I think we can all agree that no one wants to be that person walking around bragging about how they’re an “expert skier” – it’s meaningless and sounds stupid. It’s like some guy in the bar who says they can ski “everything” at a big resort like Alta or Snowbird. Pfft – yeah right. There are plenty of lines with massive drops and crazy exposure that no one has been crazy enough to ski yet. Skiing the marked “trails” is only the beginning. So there’s no real reason to classify yourself for that purpose as far as I can tell. Whatever you’re doing is death defying in one person’s eyes and easy and boring to someone else.

So it comes down to two things: Fulfilling a personal goal – in which case, who cares if we all agree on the same definition? Define your goal however you like and work towards it.

Or being able to classify yourself properly for a class, group, or trail choice. And to be honest – those things all vary so widely there’s nothing even close to being a universal definition. Because they are all relative to the other people in the group or the other trails on the mountain. There is no universal definition for what a black or double black run is or how hard it is – and the same run can be easy in some conditions and impossible in others. Even when you try to say – well, I like steeps – even if you have your inclinometer out and can say – I skied a 50 degree slope – that’s great. But that could be very easy because it was short or had a nice open run out at the bottom or very difficult because it was tight/rocky/exposed.

So don’t stress over it one way or the other. It’s not a label on your forehead. And don’t undersell yourself when you’re taking lessons. If your friends are telling you you’re better than you think you are – listen to them when it comes to describing your skiing for an instructor or a guide. If you have to – say “I have a hard time saying it because I feel like I have so much room for improvement, but my friends all tell me that I’m an expert skier.” NO ONE who is trying to divide people into groups is expecting the definition of “expert” skiers to be perfection or anywhere near it. And Good Lord – if you walked into a ski shop and told the employees you’re anything other than an expert, they assume you need beginner gear. Because they’re without a doubt assuming that if you can make it down a black run alive, skis on or not, you’re calling yourself an expert.